To only two people did Jesus ever say: “Great is thy faith.” One of them was a Gentile solider who beseeched Jesus on behalf of his sick servant. The other was a Canaanite woman who chased after Jesus, begging only for the crumbs from the Master’s table
Why should a foreign soldier, who had no Jewish roots, believe in a Messiah who was rejected by His own countrymen who should have recognized their Savior? Why should a Gentile woman understand sin and grace better than an Israelite who had grown up with the promises of the Old Testament recited in his ears?
We see this curious reversal repeatedly on the pages of the Gospels: Faith sprouts where we would not expect it. It often withers where it ought to blossom.
The folks in Jesus’ hometown tried to throw him off a cliff. Even John the Baptist had his moments of doubt in the dungeon. Peter, James and John saw Christ transfigured on the mountain along with Moses and Elijah – and yet they ditched out on Jesus in His deepest need.
But little children, grieving widows, a woman in the crowd with an embarrassing ailment – these all understood their own unworthiness and Christ’s willingness to save them on a far deeper level – believing very deeply what little they knew. They were honored to meet the Master.
A man told about his visit to Yellowstone National Park. Rings of Japanese and German tourists surrounded the geyser, their video cameras aimed like weapons at the famous hole in the ground. A large digital clock measured off the 24 minutes till the next eruption. In the dining room overlooking Old Faithful, when the digital clock reached one minute, he and every other diner left their seats and rushed to the windows to see the big, wet event.
As they did so, a crew of busboys and waiters descended on the tables to refill the water glasses and clear the dirty dishes.
When the geyser went off, he said, we all “oohed” and “aahed” and snapped pictures and applauded. But, glancing back over his shoulder, he saw that not a single waiter or busboy – not even those who had finished their chores – looked out the huge windows. Old Faithful, grown too familiar, had lost its power to impress them.
As we read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, it’s obvious that Paul never lost his joy and amazement at the salvation that was his in Christ. However long we have had this sweet gospel, its power to change us has not changed. Do we still “ooh” and “aah” over the wonder that God became our Brother to make us His own. Do we still cherish the honor of being the baptized sons and daughters of the King? And someday we shall say, “Ooh, aah, heaven!